I’m hooked

Today is graduation day! I’m travelling with my Mum across the country to don the gown and cap and have a bit of celebration :-). Hopfully the rain will stay away and the snow will have totally melted before we get there. I’m really looking forward to seeing my Uni town again, seeing the sea and the mountains, breathing the fresh salt air! Not looking forward to the long drive but we’ll manage it somehow. Will find out my grade today as well which will be good to know finally.

Contemplation

I have been into a series on TV recently called “Ben Fen Fogles Lives in the Wild” which is about individuals or couples who were living “normal” lives in the Western world, or at least trying to, before deciding to pack it all in,  go remote as possible and live in “the wild”. Ben stays with them for a week and discovers their reasoning, what their lives are like, and if it is really as idyllic as it sounds.

I know why the show appeals to me: I have a love for travel, and getting away and being thrown into alien environments and working out how to survive. It’s also interesting to see how the people cope with the isolation or having to interact with the indigenous neighbours who appear from the wilderness around them, how much they are off the grid, if anyone can truely be away from the modern world anymore.

Also it kind tugs me to know that I would have slightly more complex issues than the people in the show if I ever did this myself, as I have a constant need for testosterone, a shot every 3 months. That means as it stands I would have to contact medical facilites every 1/4 year (or be in a location where I could safely store the drug myself at a correct temperature..which seems unlikely). It also means I would have to pay for these drugs, so would not be able to live totally off grid. OR, I could go off testosterone (*gulp*), the voice and (most) beard growth would stay or just slow down, but then have to deal with “female” menstural problems.

Now, I know that such a thing is unlikely, it’s just I suppose it kinda saddens me a little sometimes that there is that extra barrier. I mean, god, i’m finding it hard enough to sort out testosterone for Japan, another modern 1st world country!. Maybe in the future they will be able to invent an implant that slowly releases testosterone over years, negating the need for frequent doctor trips and injections. I have to think of the other side of things though, at least I have been able to transition, if I was living in one of these remote places from the get-go then I never would have been able to be who I am today. Living in the UK has given me the oppurtunity of a life living as who I really am and who I love to be.

Anyway, Christmas build up continues! One thing at a time, let’s let a large brightly dressed man jump down our chimney first and steal some mince pies before deciding what remote jungle outpost I could live in like Tarzan!

Dropped into a city

Taking the JLPT 5 (Japanese language proficiency test) in London, December.

Sunday was quite an experience. I did a round trip to London in one day (over 6 hours travelling) for a 2 hour (ish) exam. It gave me some mini-practice at exposure to many different “new” things all at once.

  1. Firstly finding the damn building. They tell you it’s on “campus” – great. You know, there is only about 9-10 large buildings with various entrance/exits on campus, interspaced with parks and side roads. I ended up bumping into a few other lost people, and after establishing we were all going to the same place, did a bit of wandering till we came across a busy courtyard. Bingo.
  2. The shock of how many people were taking the test! I was 45 mins early and already there was a queue of about 50 people snaking across the courtyard. I heard that it was something like 350+ people all in all. Thankfully I found this easier for my anxiety as I could just “blend in” amoung the crowds and observe.
  3. Learning people had come from other countries just to take the test! There were people from Scandinavia, Germany etc. My trip from “up North” paled into insignificance.
  4. Having one of the all-too-familir long waits for a cubicle to be free in the guys toilets. It’s a tad awkard stood there in a tiny room where everyway you look seems to be either a guy at a urinal or a mirrored image of a guy at a urinal. Cue fake very-important-crap-on-phone look.
  5. Realising I am actually quite good in a stress situation. After finding a queue of people outside a room, after going though a warren of doors, I assumed I had found the correct room. I stood in the queue outside the door. God knows what clicked, but after 20 mins I thought…”humm, is this really my room?”  I abandoned the queue and walked up to the door — wrong room. Shit. I doubled back and did some quick-step exploring, before finally finding the right room where thankfully nothing had started. Lesson: being a sheep can be OK, as long as you are a sheep who knows why you are beexam rooming a sheep. I was a blind sheep.
  6. Trying not to laugh at random “break music” on listening test
  7. Trying not to laugh at ridiculous possible answers to questions.
  8. Trying not to attack the guy coughing throughout the listening section. Who was strangley quiet in the other sections….
  9. Enjoying a 1st class train journey home, as it was oddly cheaper than a standard ticket. I of course did the normal and drained the food trolley of all possible free food each time it came round and stored some away for later.

Anyway, I think I have passed, and it felt really good getting to show what I had learnt over the past years. It also refreshed in my mind how intense Japan is going to be – a constant bombardment of the unknown and quick decisions that either set you on a right path or result in you quickly falling deeper into the rabbit hole.

STP dilemma

Thinking of getting a decent STP/packer before I go to Japan, but really struggling to find one that ticks all the boxes. Thing is, I prefer “discrete” but there does not appear to be a good one that is this, + STP’s well. I really like the idea of having one though, so the search continues. Anyone got a recommendation?

 

3rd surgery

This week I headed off to see my surgeon to discuss top surgery revision. As normal, it was a friendly but rapid appointment. Basically:

  1. Go in room, ask what it is i’m needing/how past surgery went. (2 mins)
  2. Whip off shirt, have a little inspection, talk about where they will cut, etc.  (4 mins)
  3. Shirt back on, surgeon draws a mini picture in notes to remind him what to do. (1 min)
  4. I explain i’m going to live on the other side of the world in less than 4 months, and I get booked in asap – which is late January (2 mins)

Roughly ten minutes after going in, i’m making my way out. The surgeon is normally on time as well, which is nice because it limits the amount of time I have to spend in the waiting room of the breast clinic, where pretty much every patient is female.

OK, so I was hoping to get this done before Christmas, but hey, at least this will be still in time for going away. It’s not like I can demand the surgeon cuts short his Christmas holiday (if this happened it would be interesting to see my chest results – probably stitches spelling “MERRY FRIGGIN CHRISTMAS”), nor can I shunt someone else off the list (im not THAT evil).

surgery pic blog

What’s kind disturbing is how used to surgery I am getting. It’s like i’m developing a routine with it. I know what I will need, what preperation needs to done, aftercare etc. Fingers crossed this is the last one for a while though. It’s under general anaesthetic but a day surgery again, so nothing too big – chop out a bit of areola, suck a tad more out of one side.

Life

Gym membership gone 😦 . Which means more home workouts, long walks and cycling into town a bit etc. Ah well, was good whilst it lasted. I’m not too down about anything at the moment, and despite no anxiety medication now, levels of panic and despair are low!

I have my Japanese exam this weekend in London, which i’m a tad nervous about now. 試験をしんぱいします! I think the Japanese motto of “to do your best” will aid me. I will have a good 3 hours on the train traveling there to get into Japanese only mode.

Testosterone

Still having troubles with getting a solid answer about obtaining Nebido (and Prostap) for/in Japan. My GP is following up another lead though, so again I wait. It’s a strange concept to me, coming from the UK, that many people around the world have to pay stupid amounts of cash for essential medication. When you have a life-long need for medication and you’re having to pay private prices you are talking (tens of) thousands and thousands across a lifetime. I know many countries have health-insurance linked to jobs, but from what I hear they can pick and choose treatments they give you access to, and whats the safety net if you loose your job? Long live the NHS!

 

Hide or seek?

I think I have danced around a line in the past couple years between:

  1. Wanting to be an active member of the transgender community and be out there so people can’t be ignorant about trans people and make up negative judgement’s pulled out of thin air. Also to connect and support other transgender people going through transition or just coming to terms with their identity.
  2. Wanting to fade into the background and live a stealth life, because after all the months and months waiting for changes to occur so I am not misgendered, it can seem conterintuitive to go round letting people know I used to be percieved as female.

A weaker third point is the feeling I get that if I do bring up transgender stuff with friends and family, especially with any regularity, it can seem a little self-centered. Although I also think that is me still getting used to talking about myself and opening up with others after a number of years with heavy social anxiety. These days I try to really interpret conversations with others to find the true meanings or vibes behind them…Is someone getting something off their chest? Are they showing they are sad? Are they looking for affirmation?. 

And I have to remember that as a listener, I like hearing about other people and their stories! So if I wanna make it interesting for others, I need to talk about stuff connected to me, and my story(s). As long as I don’t give a lecture for half an hour a day on the size of my biceps I think it will be OK.

Currently, I think I have one foot on either side of the line. I like this blog, and documenting transition, and chatting to transguys on online forums. However I am in control of who I tell/what I tell to others, especially new people I meet – an 9 times out of 10 I won’t be telling someone I am trans when I first meet them.

Anxiety

I AM OFF ALL ANXIETY MEDICATION!!!!!!! Wooooooooooooooooooooo

I first started taking stuff for anxiety and depression back in 2012, and have never really stopped since. Now, the only thing I take in a morning is a Vit D tablet (due to sunlight constraints of living on a dark, windswept small island in the Northern hemisphere just off the Atlantic Ocean). So far, so good. I still have some in store just incase I notice myself drifting backwards again, but i’m determined for that to not happen. I never really thought about coming off the anxiety meds, I just accepted it was long term. I was never bothered about having to take them, because in the end of day it was helping me. It was more the organisation and cost that became annoying after a while. So if anything it’s a bit like a surprise! (wake up, tab…oh, no tablets!) and coming off was not half as hard as I thought it would be, maybe because I was sensible and slow about it all! (I’m one clever tortoise)

Life

I see the consultant next week regarding a revision to my chest surgery – I really wanna get booked up asap so hoping to come out with some fixed dates. For now, 毎日日本語の勉強しています (everyday I am studying Japanese).

Here’s to hoping you notice the face hair explosion in this months comparison pic!

Comparison Pic: day 28 vs day 672 (week 4 vs week 96)

The next 3/4 months

Tuesday was my last shift at work, and with it come mixed feelings. It’s strange how as soon as I said I was leaving, it was like people took more interest in me,  what I was doing, and stopped to chat. So I went from feeling very at the peripheral of the staff to feeling like I was creeping in on the last week.

Seriously, what is with that? Maybe a lure to try make you stay.. then as soon as you say “yes i’ll stay on“, things go back to “pre-“i am leaving“? I also think the last week was more bearable because I did not have all the huge pressures of nagging customers to buy company products and get contact details etc. If I did not contribute to the stores targets for the last week, no one was going to complain at me next week!

Anyway, now I have to think about priorities in the next few months.

  1. I really really really need to get sorted with testosterone for Japan. It’s a nag at the back my head all the time. I did finally get the letter outlining my appointment at the GIC (gender clinic) – which stated explicitly to allow me to continue being prescribed Nebido whilst I am in Japan for the year. However, I get the feeling my GP is still not going to be comfortable with this. Affordability is the main issue if more of it goes onto private. In fact the Prostap (hormone blocker) is the most expensive injection of the two – if I could stop that, then things become more manageable. Even then we are talking a couple of hundred pounds a vial.  Tbh, i’m starting to creep towards going out with one vial and then just starting to get it out there.
  2. Pass the JLPT5 – a Japanese proficiency test that i’ve been wanting to do for a while, and I will finally take in December
  3. Pass TEFL course – which i’m valiently getting through even though I’m finding that even the “Elementery Level” English stuff is news to me! A week ago I would not have been able to point out to you a “past simple” sentence let alone differentiate it from the “present perfect”
  4. Be steady off my anxiety meds – I am almost off!!!! Only one 50mg tablet to go. Now to stay panic-free for a sustained period. (*Manic laughing…….*)
  5. Have top surgery revision N#2. Ideally before Christmas.
  6. Sell a load of my gear. As much as possible. Gumtree and freecycle will likely be my friends. As is the bin.
  7. Buy a load of gear. Including travel stuff, basic smart clothing, お土産 (omiyage) which are small, normally food gifts, to give to teachers and important people in Japan and souvenirs to show round. Maybe buy a T-Shirt that says in Japanese “If I look lost, please look after me”
  8. Get all my documents in order – be friggin organised. Visas, certificates, licenses, contracts, guides and generic “important docs” become a minefield, with total chaos a real probability if I don’t get all my shit together and tediously filed.

I get the feeling things will move fast after Christmas. Hopfully I will be able to get some small part-time job (12 hrs or less) after I have recovered from surgery to continue to get a bit of money in.

2 years ago, I was in the grips of a big mental health breakdown

A year ago, I was starting a Masters degree,

Now, I’m preparing to move across to the other side of the world to live and work.

Things definitely are moving forward!

 

I’ve handed in my notice

I’ve done it. My letter is in, and I am in the throws of the awkward notice “week” in which I have to come in and work with everyone knowing that I am heading out before Christmas *cringe*. Both the managers I work with were thankfully OK about me quitting (though “disappointed” came up a few times).

I had a few restless nights before quitting, going through what was the “right” thing to do, etc. In the end I came to the conclusion that I would only be staying on for the benefit of other people and the detriment of myself. In terms of a future job seeing that I left my contract early…well I would like to think it’s a company that values someone doing what is best for their career and not staying on in a position they dislike for some kinda show of self-torture endurance.

I now have a glimmer of light — this time next week I will have finished. From now on I need to be extra careful with my cash. I get the feeling it is going to pour through my hands in the coming months.

I have been having more trouble sorting on Testosterone + Prostap for Japan, and still don’t know 100% where I stand. However I do get the feeling I will be paying out of pocket for at least 1-2 sets of medication – at around £500 a pop. Yep, thats right. It’s so much that once I know that 100% i’m going to see whether I can either:

  1. Stop Prostap altogether
  2. Go on a (cheaper) alternative to Prostap

Many people never even start on Prostap (hormone blocker), but the argument I will face is it not being a good idea to change my medication before heading out. Anyway, I don’t see the Doctor for another two weeks, so until then, things are on hold.

Another option is to get Testosterone when I am out there… which, seeming as I just found out my “vague” area I will be staying today, is a possibility. I will be either be in Shizuoka, Shiga or Kyoto, which I am so excited about i’m finding it hard to concentrate!

For now, today is a day off , so I am getting on selling as much as possible, and will nip over to the gym to burn off some restless energy!

Eat, sleep, work, repeat

OK, not gunna lie, work is getting me down. I ache and itch and cough and drag my legs around for the shifts, imagining how i’m just gunna turn round and run out the store and never come back. I smile at people who are rude to me, including adults who wanna vent somewhere so feel the right person is the shop assistant on minimum wage at their local chain store

“I’m sorry the item you are searching for is not in stock, for this is obviously my fault. I went round this morning taking it off the shop floor, jumping on it, pouring paint on it, ripping it to shreds, then feeding it to a pig. I deeply apologise for the inconvenience. Would you like to shout either “F***ING DO IT THEN” for me to re-order the item, or “GO TO HELL” for you to grace another store? Thank you very much”

I count away the hours by a hidden stash of fruit pastilles (1 pastille for every hour) and have now taken to bringing Japanese kanji in to memorise on shift.

Life is becoming boring, repetitive and about survival. It’s dark by 5pm, it’s colder and i’m becoming a bit disillusioned with England, the people of England, and basically the whole concept of what people are striving for and wanting to achieve in life. I stand around at work sometimes thinking “how have we created this?”. Millions of people like me working in artifically lit boxes all day, stacking items made by people half way across the world also in big boxes, being brought by people who have to spend most their life sat in some box somewhere else to afford it.

I JUST WANT TO FEEL LIKE IM NOT TRAPPED IN BOX ARGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH

So many people spending the bulk of their life doing stuff they don’t enjoy. I can understand why people feel they need to, that they have to. It’s just. Depressing. It’s like a big machine that’s been created that we can’t stop – at least not as individuals. ANDDD STOP. Ok, i’m getting too deep. I think i’m trying to understand humans, and I’m not sure if we can fully be understood.

I’m working 9-6 today. I always have anxiety before work. I feel stressed and have a tight knit stomach. Thankfully, despite greatly reduced medication, I am not having panic attacks or getting stuck not being able to go out the front door.

Maybe next week will be better…maybe?

I also need to find time to enquire about my teaching job in Japan, as I still need to fill in a whole bunch of forms and things are going quite slow. I somehow need to fit all the trans-medication stuff around that.

On a lighter note, I was watching “Blue Planet 2 by David Attenborough last night and they had a basically FTM fish! It lived it’s first 10 years of life as female, then enzyme changes in it’s body make it transform into a male fish, which it lives the remainder of it’s life as! OK, so a bit different if you are looking at gender vs sex, but close enough for me to be like “I totally relate to you my fishy friend!”